A fair wealth of good information too often obscured by what feels like a desperate need to be liked.

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FANTASTIC FUGITIVES

CRIMINALS, CUTTHROATS, AND REBELS WHO CHANGED HISTORY (WHILE ON THE RUN!)

From the Changed History series

A dozen vest-pocket profiles of notorious fugitives—good, bad, and, in the case of Typhoid Mary, ugly.

“If you’re going to change the world, you better be good at running and hiding,” writes DuMont at the start of this uneven collection of bold outlaws. Most of the characters are well-known figures—Cleopatra, Harriet Tubman, John Dillinger, Nelson Mandela—but there are also a handful of lesser-known but serious rabble-rousers: Koxinga (who hoped to restore the Ming dynasty from the Manchus), suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, and Virginia Hall, who spied for the Allies during World War II. DuMont neatly notes the historical significance of these outlaws, and there is an entertaining collection of artwork to complement the text. But the title of the book gives away its weakness: DuMont overdoes it trying to be chums with her audience. “Spartacus and his new BFF, Crixus,” is typical, as is mention of Cleopatra’s “bling” or “Legend has it that [Martin] Luther was on the toilet when he had his ‘aha’ moment....Instead of stinking up the place for the next thirty minutes, he got to thinking.” It is not just that this approach is pandering, but it removes the subjects from the times in which they lived, thus failing to conjure distinct images about the characters in their particular surrounds.

A fair wealth of good information too often obscured by what feels like a desperate need to be liked. (Collective biography. 9-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63220-412-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for...

TWO MEN AND A CAR

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, AL CAPONE, AND A CADILLAC V-8

A custom-built, bulletproof limo links two historical figures who were pre-eminent in more or less different spheres.

Garland admits that a claim that FDR was driven to Congress to deliver his “Day of Infamy” speech in a car that once belonged to Capone rests on shaky evidence. He nonetheless uses the anecdote as a launchpad for twin portraits of contemporaries who occupy unique niches in this country’s history but had little in common. Both were smart, ambitious New Yorkers and were young when their fathers died, but they definitely “headed in opposite directions.” As he fills his biographical sketches with standard-issue facts and has disappointingly little to say about the car itself (which was commissioned by Capone in 1928 and still survives), this outing seems largely intended to be a vehicle for the dark, heavy illustrations. These are done in muted hues with densely scratched surfaces and angled so that the two men, the period backgrounds against which they are posed, and the car have monumental looks. It’s a reach to bill this, as the author does, a “story about America,” but it does at least offer a study in contrasts featuring two of America’s most renowned citizens. Most of the human figures are white in the art, but some group scenes include a few with darker skin.

The car gets shortchanged, but comparing the divergent career paths of its (putative) two riders may give readers food for thought. (timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-88448-620-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories.

SURVIVORS

A large-format hardcover gathers together true stories of adventure and survival.

Two that are well-known, at least to adults, are Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Antarctic expedition and the ordeal of Aron Ralston, who cut off his own arm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder that trapped him in a narrow canyon, the subject of the film 127 Hours. Lesser known is the story of Poon Lim, who survived 133 days alone in the South Atlantic when the merchant ship he was serving on was sunk by a U-boat. At one point, he caught a shark several feet long, pulled it aboard his raft, beat it to death, and proceeded to suck its blood and eat it raw for nourishment. Seventeen-year-old Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rain forest, relied on survival lessons taught by her parents. During her nine-day ordeal, she poured gasoline on her wounds, which succeeded in removing 35 maggots from one arm. In a skiing accident, Anna Bågenholm was trapped under freezing water for so long her heart stopped. Four hours later, medics managed to warm her blood enough to revive her. The attractive design features a full-page or double-page–spread color illustration depicting a pivotal moment in each well-told story. Entirely absent are such standard features as table of contents, source notes, bibliography, or index, pegging this as an entertainment resource only.

A great collection of harrowing, true survivor stories. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-571-31601-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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